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Picture of the Day
August 10, 2021


In Minneapolis for only one day en route back to Seattle, my sister's in a new place eager to reduce the load of stuff in her condo storage, a lot of which is old family documents running the gamut from crucial to trivial and the beguiling errata in between. We spent most of the day sorting through boxes of paperwork and alleged heirlooms such as silverplate flatware, kitschy figurines, and heavy bowls and trays that were either real crystal or cunning cut glass--who can tell? Photos, postcards, and news clippings; birth, marriage, and death certificates; powers of attorney and lawyerly advice; reams of diaphanous airmail correspondence in tiny illegible Czech script; bills and receipts from department stores, hospitals, and mortuaries; letters of passage from the international rescue committee; job references, applications, and pay stubs; report cards and school certificates going back to 1919; a faded and inscrutable family tree rooted in 1622 and branching in ghostly cursive but left hanging mid-20th century. But the funniest and most damning was correspondence from my step-father to an appliance company, first a simple request and then his outraged and threatening follow-up, delivered in genteel old world epistolary formality, concerning the all-important issue of some tantalizingly unattainable nylon hinge pins for a refrigerator's butter door. Although we weren't blood relatives, he influenced my formation and I cringe to see the resemblance in the towering stature of our peevishness, especially as I spent hours of drivetime mentally obsessing, drafting outraged indictments of my own in regard to the many unsatisfactory attempted repairs on my Tacoma's clutch pedal. But in the end he made a graceful exit, which is the best anyone can hope for. Seeing the good and bad and mostly tragic examples set by my immediate predecessors is a gentle wakeup call to do a little better. I don't want to be the type of person indicted by the Czech film Daisies, "dedicated to those whose sole source of indignation is a messed up trifle."

frantisek zverina migration
                                approval heinrich boll frank
                                zverina NYT obituary thumbnail frantisek zverina funeral bill nadezda and otto marriage
                                certificate letter to
                                tappan appliance company 1975 tappan
                                appliance letter threat inhuman
                                acts letter otto suicide
                                hint nembutal note